Intro: During this Lenten season, every devotional will begin with a quote from C.S. Lewis (author and theologian), followed by two readings: 1) A passage from the Psalter and 2) a writing from one of the Old Testament prophets or New Testament authors. We will look at both passages as a whole through the fulfilling work and wisdom of Christ—Truth.
With regard to Christ, humanity must make a decision for how we will view His story to offer salvation through a miraculous rebirth into eternal life—we will either accept it as Truth or reject it.
The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the Universe.” (CS Lewis; God in the Dock)
As human beings, we have an innate desire to try to make sense of everything—we want the circumstances we face to be clear and easy to understand. In our passage from the Psalter, David cries out about his humiliation, the rejection and mockery of people, as well as his perception of God’s absence or abandonment. David cannot make sense of what is happening to him. Like David, we may question, examine, doubt, or even grieve over our perception of God’s absence in our trials that leave us in a state of confusion. However, God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (1 Cor 14:33). So, as God’s distressed servants facing things we do not understand, instead of praying for vengeance against our enemies, like David we need to pray and ask God for comfort and salvation.
Psalm 22:1-11 NLT A Passion Psalm of David
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?
Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.
Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them.
They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.
But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!
Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying,
“Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him! If the Lord loves him so much, let the Lord rescue him!”
Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast.
I was thrust into your arms at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born.
Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.
David’s psalm makes a connection to the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus himself actually quotes a portion of Psalm 22 while he is on the cross. The Righteous One—the sinless Son of God—suffers unjustly as the sin of the world is laid on him and the wrath of God is poured out upon him. Jesus dies in our place. Forgiveness for our sin can now be found in a relationship with Father God through the Son. If you have never asked Jesus to forgive your sin and welcomed him into your heart, today is your day.
Matthew 27:1-54 NLT Judas Hangs Himself
27 Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders of the people met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. 2 Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.
3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
“What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.”
5 Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself.
6 The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder” [blood]. 7 After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. 8 That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. 9 This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says,
“They took the thirty pieces of silver— the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel,
and purchased the potter’s field, as the Lord directed.”
Jesus’ Trial before Pilate
11 Now Jesus was standing before Pilate, the Roman governor. “Are you the king of the Jews?” the governor asked him.
Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
12 But when the leading priests and the elders made their accusations against him, Jesus remained silent. 13 “Don’t you hear all these charges they are bringing against you?” Pilate demanded. 14 But Jesus made no response to any of the charges, much to the governor’s surprise.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. 16 This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. 17 As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.)
19 Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.”
20 Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. 21 So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”
The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
They shouted back, “Crucify him!”
23 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”
But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”
24 Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!”
25 And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!”
26 So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
The Soldiers Mock Jesus
27 Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. 29 They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. 31 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.
32 Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene [Africa], and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. 33 And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 34 The soldiers gave Jesus wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.
35 After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. 36 Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. 37 A sign was fastened above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Two revolutionaries [criminals] were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.
The Death of Jesus
45 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
47 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 48 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. 49 But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”
50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, 52 and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. 53 They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.
54 The Roman officer [centurion] and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”
Prayer: Lord, with unwavering gratitude, we thank you for paying the penalty for our sin. Although we cannot make sense of the perfect love you have displayed for sinners by dying in our place, we know you are the sinless Son of God. Thank you for offering us salvation by exchanging your Righteous Life for our unrighteous ones. Now, Holy Spirit, help us live as reborn sons and daughters of the Father who walk in your glorious ways. Give us strength as we share in your sufferings. In Jesus’ name. Amen.